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Friday, February 1, 2013

Tough choices made the right way!
 
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“We're going to have to make tough choices and we're going to have to make them together.” ~ Bill Clinton

“Character is the sum and total of a person's choices.” ~ P. B. Fitzwater

Tough choices! Agonizingly difficult to make, impossible to discern the right way!

·         Who do we get involved in helping us make these choices?

·         Why choose these people?

·         When do we decide it’s time to make these decisions?

·         What do we do if we just cannot decide?

These are some of the challenges facing us as the tough side of life invades our existence aren’t they?

Sometimes it’s difficult to decide on good things, like getting married, pregnant, taking a new job, moving to a new area of opportunity. These are decisions that have weight, but the weight is less heavy than the other times, those times of hurtful decisions.

One of my friends father, was just diagnosed with cancerous tumour in his liver. The decision he faced was simple! Either undergo operations that could kill him, to remove some of the tumours, and then have chemotherapy with a potential of a few extra weeks of life, or go home, and spend time with his family before he dies. There is no way of avoiding death for him! His only decision is between pain and what he has to do in life in his last weeks of a very shortened lifespan.

That’s one of those really hard decisions isn’t it?

There are others...when to move a loved one into nursing homes or hospices, when to move out of abusive relationships, when to give up addictions. I am sure we can think of other!

Weighty decisions are described that way, because they can become a burden, pulling us down and stopping us from enjoying the lighter sides of life, the joy of living and the love around us.

There are ways of enabling love, joy and hope in times of tough decisions. Christians do have a way to be lifted to spiritual places, so that decisions can be lighter than normal in trying circumstances.

This does not mean we never feel the strain. Of course we do!

Think of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane as a clear example of dealing with heavy stress in Christian lives. Remember that prayer was the way through that stress, and let’s keep that in mind as we look at decision making.

The danger for Christians is that sin fogs up our ability to see correct solutions.

Selfishness, ignorance and nasty aspects cover up truth and simplicity to hide our path forward.

Unforgiven hurts can lock our brains.

Unwillingness to take God’s advice is another hurdle.

How do we step forward and blow away the fog of sin?

What wind can disperse the mist of evil and unveil solutions in clarity and light?

So what can we do?

1.   Pray : Jesus prayed in Gethsemane, we need to as a minimum pray asking God for wisdom and guidance. Prayer to lock up selfishness, repenting of sin, and holding up the burden to God to enable him to lift it (“Come to me, all of you who are tired and are carrying heavy loads. I will give you rest. Become my servants and learn from me. I am gentle and free of pride. You will find rest for your souls. Serving me is easy, and my load is light.” Matthew 11:30 NIRV[1])

 

2.   Listen to trusted Christian’s advice: (The way of a foolish person seems right to him. But a wise person listens to advice. Proverbs 12:15 NIRV[2]) Wiser experienced Christians can be gentle, loving and guiding at the same time. Sometimes they will even offer help from the community that can help us feel less alone in these times. Non-Christians cannot give Christ based advice. Be careful of giving this Non-Christian advice too much weight, but listen to them as well. Sometimes they have good ideas you can then pass across to Christians to help you evaluate.

 

 

3.   Read God’s word, the bible: Sometimes we don’t hear from God because we simply don’t go to God’s word when we are stressed with decisions. God left these words to enable us to use them, but if we ignore the light of the word, it’s hard to see the way through the fog of despair.

 

4.   “God’s glory” consideration: When we are under stress, it often slips our mind that we are not central to life, God is. Our lives are of value as they bring God glory. What is the decision path that will best bring God glory? Often this can help decide between options that look similar at first glance. It’s part of applying the “love God” guidelines of the Christian walk.

 

 

5.   What will assist others?: Christians are to not be selfish, but we are to “love others as we love ourselves”. Taking this into consideration when making a decision can also help discern one way as being better than another.

 

6.   What will show God to the world more clearly?: Another Christian evaluation criteria is which of the decisions will enable others to meet and see God more clearly. How can our decision reach others more effectively for God. Sometimes this can help us decide on the correct path.

 

 

7.   “Cast lots!”  If everything in the above six steps have been done, and there is still no clarity of what to do and there are choices to be made that all seem of equal importance. then we step into a simple decision making situation that is very biblical. We can toss a coin and take the outcome as the correct path. Now I can hear people thinking that’s gambling, or “you must be crazy”. Neither of these are true! Read Acts 1 to see the whole early church using casting lots to determine God’s direction in a difficult choice. There are many other examples. God is in control of everything in life, and if we pray and cast lots, he can use this simple tool to give us direction.

Can you see that Christians can never end up without ability to decide, using the above seven steps?

We may take some time to go through the steps, but we will always end up with a decision at the end.

Agonizing for days upon days, is not what God wants in our lives.

God wants us to experience the joy of living, even through the tough circumstances of life. He wants to have Holy Spirit blow away the impact of sin on our judgement and flood our life with the light of the son, and the joy of living in God’s will. God will clear our paths, and show us the way if we follow the simple course above, to find out where it is we should be going.

Have a great empowered day today!



[1] Matthew 11:30 NIRV

[2] Proverbs 12:15 NIRV

Fri, February 1, 2013 | link          Comments

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Competition between squirrels
 
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In response to a question about deciding how to split a deceased family members estate the following story was told by a wise man...

In the woods there was a competition between squirrels to find the largest hollow tree and fill it with nuts.

Now one of the squirrels that was living in an area with a large crop of nuts and had an abundance of food, considered he was rich and yet was unhappy with this as the trees were young and vibrant and none had good storage places in them.

“I know what I will do”, this squirrel thought as it sat up on it’s hind legs holding a nut in its paws and nibbling on it. “I will go into the older part of the forest, just a short while off where the humans sometimes go. There are some grand old trees there that I can fill with my nuts.

I will empty my stores into them and then I can move in and live a life of luxury and plenty and not have to work hard again. I will be able to retire!”

With this the squirrel felt superior to the other squirrels, and rushed off to find the best hollow tree in the land so he could spend the rest of his life taking it easy in luxury and be thought of as smart and rich.

What the squirrel didn’t know is that the forest area he was to use was filled with a trappers traps and that he would never live to enjoy the fruit of his labour.

The motto of the story is “That is how it will be for anyone who stores things away for himself but is not rich in God’s eyes.” Luke 12:21

Have a great day!
Thu, January 31, 2013 | link          Comments

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Joseph, prisons and the accuracy of the bible

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“The earliest records of prisons come from the 1st millennia BC, located on the areas of mighty ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt. During those times, prisons were almost always stationed in the underground dungeons where guilty or suspected criminals spent their life either awaiting death sentence, or a command to become slaves (often working as galley slaves). “~ History of Prisons[1]

Prisons are a relatively new innovation.

In ancient times punishment was swift and hard. You probably were killed, maimed, or became a slave as a result of crime.

Today, we incarcerate people for a period of time as a punishment. In the ancient times, they would never do this as it meant looking after and paying for a persons keep. Criminals tended to get their punishments on the spot or soon thereafter.

The first known prisons are in the Egyptian and Mesopotamia area and probably align with the first complex civilizations.

Why is this interesting?

Well the bible makes a statement as follows...

19 Potiphar’s wife told him, “That’s how your slave treated me.” When Joseph’s master heard her story, he became very angry. 20 So he put Joseph in prison. It was the place where the king’s prisoners were kept.

While Joseph was there in the prison, 21 the Lord was with him. He was kind to him.

So the man who was running the prison was pleased with Joseph. 22 He put Joseph in charge of all of the prisoners. He made him accountable for everything that was done there. 23 The man who ran the prison didn’t pay attention to anything that was in Joseph’s care.

The Lord was with Joseph. He gave Joseph success in everything he did. ~ Genesis 39

Joseph was thrown into prison.

Now based on the timings of the bible and independent of whether you adopt a higher or lower chronology for the exodus (this is bible technical thing about dates), this statement is only accurate because at that time, prisons existed in that area. If it had been somewhere else that statement was made, then it would be false.

We are so used to statements about prisons today, we don’t realize there was a time in which they didn’t exist.

If you read the bible Old Testament, particularly the first few books, you will notice no mention of prisons in the very early times. They may have taken prisoners during war, but they didn’t put them in prison, they made them into slaves.

Joseph’s story is accurate!

The reason people got put in prison in Egypt was to await the final execution of their judgement (and perhaps as a short stay until the reigning pharaoh or his minions decided what had to be done with them).

Such was probably the case of the baker and wine taster. One being re-instated and the other executed.

Judgement today is not as swift, and the sentences of prison time are perhaps more just, but I often wonder if justice is really done. I know of a man who suffered for a long time awaiting a trial, having been accused falsely of child molestation. (He couldn’t have done it and was found innocent but the time it took nearly killed him due to the anxiety and people’s attitudes). Faster judgements would be much more humane.

Isn’t it interesting how we can easily expect that because we are accustom to something it must always have been the case?

Many of us had no idea that prisons were a new invention, right?

How many other things do we also assume?

How about that people need to be in love to get married? That’s another modern perspective.

When in the bible it says “Husbands, love your wives. Love them just as Christ loved the church. He gave himself up for her.” ~ Ephesians 5:25 NIRV

We assume that’s easy, after all he loved her enough to get married right?

Wrong!

Marriages were arranged, and this meant that the instruction was much more severe than we think of it today. Men and women were put together by parents and so many marriages were endured, not appreciated.

Loving wives was a command, because it was right to do so and sometimes people needed to be told to do so. We have such a lesser view of marriage today, that the commitment is light, only really involves the two getting married.

In the older days, marriage was often part of the commercial agreement between families and could not be easily broken, no matter what the circumstances. Even today in Africa and other parts of the world it is often still the case.

Life changes, and we should not assume that today reflects yesterday.

The only constant is Jesus and God’s love. That is eternal!

Today as we enjoy the comforts of our modern society, let’s not forget that Christianity changed the world, and the value systems it brought with it, is what enabled many of the comforts we now enjoy.

Have a great day!

Wed, January 30, 2013 | link          Comments

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Western Christians are loose with words and Pakistani Christians lose their lives...

 

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“Political truth is libel; religious truth, blasphemy.” ~  William Hazlitt

 

What is blasphemy? Do we even care about it today?

The online dictionary describes blasphemy as “The act or offense of speaking sacrilegiously about God or sacred things; profane talk”

Basically, it's being grossly lacking in respect in what we say about God.

In the western world and many countries around the world where there is freedom of the press, this is considered to be a normal state of affairs.

Every day there are cartoons and comments that a deeply religious person considers blasphemy.

Out of the mouths of teenagers and angry people words flow without thought that in other countries would result in their death.

In Pakistan there are “Over a dozen people are known to be on death row over blasphemy allegations and more than 50 people have been killed while awaiting trial on similar charges” according to http://www.bosnewslife.com/26289-breaking-news-pakistan-frees-christian-jailed-for-blasphemy

Moslems don’t seem to have the same forgiving attitude to blasphemy that Christians do.

People are convicted and killed if they blaspheme in any way against the Prophet. In fact, people are in trouble and serve jail time on the words of people who just report this has happened.

Not good? We need to pray this will change don’t we?

Injuring the reputation of God is serious, but so is forgiveness, if we are Christians.

None of us should disrespect God by abusing his name.

Many authors have written how it is worse than murder in God’s sight, simply because it is a direct sin against God.  I personally believe sin has no levels or intensities, and that any sin is equally dangerous.

As humans we seem to think that one sin is greater than another. I guess it’s in the way our minds work. We cannot see swearing to be as bad as killing another.

Yet in God’s eyes unrepentant sin is sufficient for anyone to spend eternity in suffering, and so the smallest sin is still evil and wrong.

Do we check our words daily? How many times a day do we say of hear someone say God’s name in a flippant non-respectful manner. How many movies do we watch where “Jesus” or “Christ” is misused.

While the horrible laws of some countries are too strict, perhaps we need to think about what we say a little more. Perhaps we should find it painful when people misuse God’s names? Perhaps as we go about our day, we should avoid being selfish and disrespectful in this way, and should pray for those that are. Many people are not aware of how dangerous they are acting as they swear and abuse God’s name.

Exodus 20:7 says “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.”

It is a commandment! Not one to take into our own hands, but one that God will uphold throughout eternity. It is good to think about this and it’s implications. Abuse of this was used to convict Jesus to death, but he was speaking truth.

I am glad to live in a country where there is freedom, but I pray it does not lead to abuse of others and God.

As a Christian in the western world, I know that often I recoil at words used in what some people consider entertainment.

Unfortunately, it happens so often I find myself habituating to it. Perhaps we need to work on keeping this sensitivity and being horrified when people abuse God’s names. Not horrified enough to put them in jail or have them killed as in many Moslem countries, just horrified enough to suggest to a person that have insulted us, by insulting our loving God. Perhaps we should ask them if they would stop, so that we can be respected by people having respect for our God.

Today as we head out to work, let’s not be shy to request people to respect us enough to respect God and not abuse his name.

After all, how would we like it, if someone continually used our name as a swear word?

Tue, January 29, 2013 | link          Comments

Monday, January 28, 2013

Jesus picked Judas for his team, why did he pick a snitch?

Jesus picked Judas for his team, why did he pick a snitch?

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Judas heard all Christ's sermons” ~ Thomas Goodwin

 Ever made a bad choice of a team member? Ever had someone chose the wrong guy for a team?

It can be a source of constant aggravation and discord can’t it?

As people we don’t like this and we prefer that everything runs like a well-oiled machine, never giving us any trouble, don’t we?

Is this how life should be?

Consider that Jesus deliberately chose Judas? The bible says...

70 Then Jesus replied, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!” 71 (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)[1] John 6:70-71

I guess we have two options here...either Jesus didn’t know what Judas would do before he joined the team, or he did.

Assuming God the Father, somehow didn’t give Jesus anything we don’t get given as humans (and the bible says he was totally human so that is quite likely), then perhaps Jesus didn’t know.

Yet, even if this is the case, God the Father knew and so Holy Spirit could have guided Jesus’ choices couldn’t he.

Yet Jesus chose Judas!

Who was Judas?

Judas’ name is from the root in Hebrew meaning “Praise”. He is called Judas Iscariot where Iscariot is derived from the term “coming from Kerioth”. Kerioth was a city in Judea (modern Palestine) just a short distance from Hebron. It is mentioned at one other time in the bible...

Joshua 15:20-25 NIV This is the inheritance of the tribe of Judah, according to its clans: The southernmost towns of the tribe of Judah in the Negev toward the boundary of Edom were: Kabzeel, Eder, Jagur, Kinah, Dimonah, Adadah, Kedesh, Hazor, Ithnan, Ziph, Telem, Bealoth, Hazor Hadattah, Kerioth Hezron (that is, Hazor),

Judas was a disciple chosen by Jesus. Judas was not the nicest person. He was the team's money man and we know it is said that he stole from the purse.

At one point it is said about him...

But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it. John 12:6

In Acts, Peter describes what Judas did in summary...

“Brothers and sisters, the Scripture had to be fulfilled in which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through David concerning Judas, who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus. 17 He was one of our number and shared in our ministry.”

18 (With the payment he received for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. 19 Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called that field in their language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)[2] Acts 1: 16-19 NIV

Judas was to betray Jesus and as he ate his last meal on this earth Jesus said...

 “What I’m about to tell you is true,” he said. “One of you is going to hand me over to my enemies.” John 13:21

Judas sneaked off to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver and did so later that evening...

45 Then he returned to the disciples. He said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look! The hour is near. The Son of Man is about to be handed over to sinners. 46 Get up! Let us go! Here comes the one who is handing me over to them!”

47 While Jesus was still speaking, Judas arrived. He was one of the Twelve. A large crowd was with him. They were carrying swords and clubs. The chief priests and the elders of the people had sent them.

48 Judas, who was going to hand Jesus over, had arranged a signal with them. “The one I kiss is the man,” he said. “Arrest him.”

49 So Judas went to Jesus at once. He said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him.

50 Jesus replied, “Friend, do what you came to do.”

Then the men stepped forward. They grabbed Jesus and arrested him[3] John 13:21-31

It seems Judas had a change of heart, because later it says...

Judas, who had handed him over, saw that Jesus had been sentenced to die. He felt deep shame and sadness for what he had done. So he returned the 30 silver coins to the chief priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he said. “I handed over a man who is not guilty.”

“What do we care?” they replied. “That’s your problem.”[4] Matt 27:3-5

It continues to say...

Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.

6 The chief priests picked up the coins and said, “It is against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money.” 7 So they decided to use the money to buy the potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners. 8 That is why it has been called the Field of Blood to this day. 9 Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “They took the thirty pieces of silver, the price set on him by the people of Israel, 10 and they used them to buy the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me

Matt 27 5-10

Did you notice the apparent contradiction...one version says he hanged himself and the other says fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out?

How can this be?

Apparent contradictions are fun to investigate. Unfortunately this had a rather disgusting resolution...

Ancient tradition says that Judas hanged himself on the edge of a cliff in the valley of Hinnom. His body decomposed for a number of days and then the corpse fell down or was cut down, falling into the  field and due to bloating of the corpse, it burst open and the entrails were exposed.

Yeach!

The money was used to buy the potters field...probably the one he had died in and this field was a field with some history. Jeremiah refers to it as “This is what the Lord says: “Go and buy a clay jar from a potter. Take along some of the elders of the people and of the priests and go out to the Valley of Ben Hinnom, near the entrance of the Potsherd Gate.” Jer 19:2

Judas dies in disgrace at a site that in the past was used by misled people offered their children to idols. A place of slaughter of innocent children!

Yet, Jesus chose this man, Judas, to be his disciple. God allowed this to occur. Why?

God’s true purpose for Jesus life was his death and resurrection. It is Judas who orchestrated this to occur. It needed someone close to Jesus to be the betrayer and Judas was close to Jesus.

God showed us that we should not expect as people to always expect to have perfect circumstances around us all the time.

Walking with Jesus means that walking with us there are others who appear to follow him, but don’t. This should not dissuade us from our tasks given by Holy spirit.

We have work to do and ultimately, even the evil around us will be turned to good by God for those he loves. Satan does not control this world at the end, God does. Yet Satan has free reign on this earth now, causing pain and damage. In the final outcome, it is not going to be enough for Satan and God will turn all the evil of Satan to his purpose.

Judas serves as a reminder to us that no matter what the circumstances we endure daily, God is in control!

Have a great day!


[1] John 6:70-71 NIrv

[2] Acts 1: 16-19 NIV

[3] John 13:21-31 NIV

[4] Matt 27:3-10 NIRV

Mon, January 28, 2013 | link          Comments


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This suspense thriller centers on Kiara, a beautiful young woman pursued by a murderous group of people, who relentlessly and ruthlessly hunt her and her sisters. Kiara has no idea why she is being targeted! When Kiara and her family turn to the law for help, this fails. Her pursuers’ powers reach deeply into the political and law enforcement world. Family support for her dwindles when they too have to flee her pursuers. Can Kiara escape the clutches of both the law and dishonest big business? With the media broadcasting that Kiara and friends are dangerous and subversive, can Kiara clear her name and bring her pursuers to justice?

 

 
  

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 RiftInEvil.gifThe town of Zinaville is dropped into a spiral of evil causing a young man and a beautiful but abused woman to launch into an investigation that unveils an evil conspiracy.

A horrific mining accident results in Joshua Robyn's father being killed. Joshua struggles both with himself and his townsfolk as he tries to make sense of an incomprehensible situation. Is it an accident or a murder? Why is there a seeming link to evil? Why is his work environment suddenly threatening? What is the conspiracy about and what are they trying to do? As action moves dramatically from exotic African grasslands to the heart of North America's cities, the plot unfolds and the pace quickens. Will there be time? Why is a beautiful abused young woman in the center of this plot?

Evil tendrils tighten on their lives and the interplay between the visible and invisible world shows opposing forces at work.

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